Today’s guest post comes to us from Pam Garnett of Altared Visions. Thanks, Pam!

For most people, their wedding day is the first time in their life they’ve ever been in front of a professional photographer’s camera lens. This can be some scary stuff, especially if you’re camera shy or perhaps a bit awkward in photographs normally. I am definitely in the latter category, by the way. If you’ve done your homework and selected a great wedding photographer (you are checking out WeddingPhotoLove, after all!), I give you full permission to relax!  Repeat after me: “I am in good hands.” Feel better? Good. I’m going to make you feel even more at ease by giving you a few things to expect from your photographer on your wedding day.

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Professionalism, Promptness & “What on Earth is She Doing?”

Professionalism is a given if you’ve hired someone carefully based on their work, passion and reputation. Your photographer(s) should of course be polite and friendly as well as arrive on time and dressed appropriately. You’ll find that many wedding photographers show up a bit early to “location scout.” My partner and I call location scouting “light hunting” and may or may or may not converse with each other exclusively in a Steve Irwin accent while doing so. You will find a lot of photographers to be a little odd, but ultimately harmless. You may glance out your window and find your photographer laying on the grass or walking in circle with an outstretch palm. Perhaps you’ll begin to fret thinking the competent professional you hired is on drugs, but it’s more likely they’re checking angles and the way the light falls on their hand. In fact, I use this hand trick often. I’m sure it looks very weird.  You may be asked to move closer to a window for your make up touch ups or other “getting ready” shots, and don’t be alarmed if you see your photographer cleaning up around the hotel room, we’re just staging the scene and lighting it so everything looks the best it can.  Again, you are in good hands!

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Direction & Striking a Pose.

A photographer’s ability to direct a subject is just behind light hunting on the important skills list. Most couples are not models or celebrities and need some gentle direction while being photographed to feel at ease and make great photos. Your photographer may have you act out gestures, walk together holding hands or pose you in that perfect light they found light hunting. You should also expect your photographer to fine tune poses by asking you to make small adjustments such as “drop that shoulder” or “lift your chin.” There is a whole science behind posing, just know that your photographer is making you look fabulous with these little tweaks! Some poses may feel unnatural, but trust us…you will look great! Zach and Jody Gray, amazing wedding photographers from Nashville, TN like to say “feels weird, looks good!
If you’re confused by your photographer’s direction, ask them to physically show you what they mean so that you can mirror them. (Note: Some photographers take a very hands-on approach so if that sort of thing gives you the creeps, be sure to let them know!)  We find our couples are more relaxed with us demonstrating instead of dictating poses and usually a couple seeing James in a pigeon toe stance gets me some great natural laughing photos. You can’t take yourself too seriously in this industry!

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A Note on “Uncle Bobs.”

For those new to the term “Uncle Bob”, that is the probably slightly impolite way we wedding photographers refer to relatives of the bride who bring their own camera to the wedding and photograph over our shoulder. The trouble with this seemingly harmless uncle or aunt shooting along with the photographer is, among other things, no one is sure where to look or who to take direction from. This leaves you with a lovely group photo of your family and only half of them are looking at the camera. This is no good and it will certainly affect your final images as well as your professional’s concentration, so we may ask them to stop shooting or wait for us to finish first. I’ve found asking relatives to allow me my shot first and standing aside for them after makes everyone happy.

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The Reception: Forget about it!

Expect to mostly forget about your photographer at your reception, in fact you should forget about your photographer at your reception! Your hard work is done; it’s time to cut loose! Unlike the beginning of the day’s in-your-face formals, the reception presents the photographer with a photojournalistic challenge in that they must hang back and catch natural, candid moments. Rather than pester you, the savvy photographer will seek out the maître’d and DJ/band immediately upon arrival to find out all they need to know without ever having to disrupt your celebrations. My partner and I alternate following our couple and shooting crowd reactions and dancing. The best reception photos are often ones taken while you’re unaware you’re being photographed in the first place, so forget about us and have a great time!

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Lastly, The Law of Photobooths.

If you have one, we will use it. It’s like a moth to a bug zapper…this is immutable science and cannot be helped.  We apologize in advance.

Thank you Pam! I love your advice and your humor. Check out Altared Visions on WeddingPhotoLove.